Aspiring lawyer sues Elon Musk for amplifying neo-Nazi conspiracy theory about him

X owner Elon Musk is involved in yet another lawsuit.

This time he is being sued by a 22-year-old college graduate who alleges the billionaire defamed him after amplifying a rumour that the young man was a member of a neo-Nazi group.

In the defamation suit filed in Travis County, Texas, Ben Brody accused Mr Musk of committing “astonishingly reckless conduct” when he furthered a false claim on social media that Mr Brody, who is of Jewish heritage, “participated in a violent street brawl on behalf of a neo-Nazi extremist group.” The filing stated that “Musk personally leveled these accusations against Ben Brody, and it has led to severe personal harassment and permanent damage to his reputation.”

The suit hinges on claims arising from Pride Night in Portland Oregon on 24 June.

According to the filing, a video captures two groups — the Proud Boys and the Rose City Nationalists, “a Portland extremist group which openly espouses neo-Nazi Views” — fighting one another.

The footage quickly went viral on social media. Although most members of the Rose City Nationalists are masked, the video reveals the faces of two members toward the end of the video.

A conspiracy theory then emerged. One social media user accused the unmasked members of being “either federal agents masquerading as racists -OR- Leftists masquerading as far right,” and asked if anyone could identify the unmasked members.

Another user then replied to the conspiratorial tweet with a screenshot of an Instagram post from Ben Brody’s Jewish college fraternity, which gave a little bio of who Mr Brody is, including that “after graduation, he plans to work for the government.” This user then posted a screenshot of Mr Brody’s social media bio, tweets show.

These posts took the conspiracy theory in a new direction.

Mr Musk had previously wondered in a tweet who the unmasked members were, so when the post about Mr Brody came about, he replied, “very odd.”

A series of social media users replied to Mr Musk’s tweet writing that the unmasked individual was not Mr Brody and that he was mistaken.

According to the suit, one social media user perpetuated the theory against Mr Brody, writing, “Remember when they called us conspiracy theorists saying the Feds were planting fake Nazis at rallies?”

Mr Musk replied, “Always remove their masks.”

The college graduate noticed the conspiracies and took to Instagram to try to defuse them. He posted a video “trying to clear his name,” the filing stated, which also included debit card receipts and video footage that demonstrated that he was in California — not Portland — on the night of the brawl.

Despite a series of users linking to Mr Brody’s Instagram video and urging Mr Musk to take down the tweets linking the brawl to the 22-year-old, the SpaceX founder seemed to not address those pleas.

He instead replied to a tweet of a blog post, which contained the image of the alleged Mr Brody look-alike, but made no mention of Mr Brody or his aspirations to work for the government, the suit stated. Still, on 27 June, Mr Musk wrote, “Looks like one is a college student (who wants to join the govt) and another is maybe an Antifa member, but nonetheless a probable false flag situation.”

The filing states: “A reasonable reader of Musk’s tweet would conclude that undisclosed information served as the basis for Musk’s assertion.”

This tweet was viewed over 1.2m times, the suit claimed. Mr Musk’s “personal endorsement of the false accusation” against the 22-year-old propelled the accusation “from anonymous rumor to gospel truth for many individuals, and causing others to use Musk’s endorsement to justify their desire to harass Ben Brody and his family,” the filing continued.

As a result, Mr Brody has suffered emotional distress, panic attacks, and headaches, and his family was doxxed multiple times, according to the suit.

“My life is ruined,” Mr Brody thought at the time, he told CNN. “I put that I wanted to work for the government. And that’s just because I didn’t know specifically what part of the government I wanted to work for. You know, I was like, I could be a lawyer,” he explained to the outlet.

The X owner was told through his lawyers about the contents of the defamation suit, Mr Musk has not taken down the posts or retracted his claims, according to the filing. As of 21 November, his 27 June tweet was still posted on his social media platform.

“I just want to make things right,” the recent grad told CNN. “It’s not about vengeance. I’m not angry. It’s not resentment. I just want to make things right, to get an apology, so that this doesn’t happen again to anyone else.”

Mr Brody’s lawyer, Mark Bankston, successfully took on Alex Jones after he spread conspiracy theories about the Sandy Hook massacre.

The lawsuit also comes as Mr Musk is under fire for sharing antisemitic conspiracy theories on X.